I despise the big three telcos. For years, they have subjected consumers in Canada to outrageous prices in order to maximize what they call Average Revenue Per Unit, or ARPU (pronounced Ar-Poo). Whenever I hear some telco person talk about their ARPU, I think that I want to shove a big fist-full of our poo right in their faces!
The thing is that the Canadian Government has created a telecom tri-opoly in Canada by providing continuous subsidies to the various telephone companies throughout the years, and has failed to stop clearly harmful practices. For example, the purchase of Microcell Solutions by Rogers Wireless was probably the worst thing to have ever happened to Canadian Wireless, since this ended innovative plans such as CityFido and set things back at least a decade.
There were steps to change this, but the problem is that they failed out of the gate. The spectrum for new entrants was a failure because of multiple reasons:
- Infrastructure was too expensive to build – This meant that WIND and Moblicity got a reputation as being a ghetto, cheap carrier that wasn’t worth buying because it didn’t work outside of major centers
- Rogers and Telus engaged in predatory business practices by creating Chat-R and Koodo
- Certain new entrants didn’t actually build a network: Shaw bought the spectrum only to re-sell it to Rogers at a later time. This was clearly some cynical arbitage and Shaw shouldn’t have been allowed to do this.
At any rate, due to the fact that Canadians still have the highest cellular phone bills in the world, it’s clear that the government wants to do something about this. Of course, since this is the Conservative Government, instead of breaking up the telcos, they’re trying to get foreign competition to come in. Of course, the telcos don’t want this, so they set up this astroturf group, Fair For Canada.
Fair for Canada seems to be targeting Verizon, who wants to enter the Canadian market. Personally, I think that Verizon doesn’t have a hope in hell, since they use CDMA-based tech, and Canada has almost entirely converted to GSM-based tech, and the LTE convergence still hasn’t happened. However, Verizon does have the deep pockets WIND and Moblicity doesn’t have and can actually compete.
Now, Fair for Canada does have some points, but two of their points, the “Ensuring Canadian Jobs” and “Protecting Canadians’ Privacy” is absolutely bullshit. The only time the big three telcos push back against things like lawful access, it’s only because of the cost of the equipment. It’s clear that they’re trying to use the recent NSA news to their advantage. To pull from their website:
Who do you want to own your private data?
Across the country, Canadians use their wireless devices to make calls, send text messages and emails, and browse the internet every day. That information should be safe, secure, and private.
Will American companies say no to requests from U.S. government agencies, for customers’ personal data?
Canadian wireless providers have a solid track record of protecting your data in compliance with Canadian laws. But what will happen with regard to the data of Canadians in the hands of foreign-owned wireless carriers? What laws will regulate the protection of your information? This is not a trivial issue. It is one that should be of concern to all Canadians.
Now, in reality, we know that Bell during the Olympics just pulled terabytes of data from their network for Botnet Analysis just because they could, and then decided to try and defend this as legal because they owned the network. I don’t trust Bell with a fucking Ham Sandwich, let alone a data network, and I don’t think that anyone else should either. That should go for the other two major networks, Rogers and Telus. Now, just to be fair, and to prove that I’m not picking on Bell, I’m going to look at this claim:
Together, Canada’s wireless companies support 280,000 jobs in communities across Canada.
Giving giant foreign corporations preferential treatment will result in job losses for Canadians.
Since they don’t have any requirements for Canadian job-creation or a true requirement to invest in Canadian infrastructure, American wireless giants have no incentive to bring high-skilled jobs to Canada.
The Government of Canada has a responsibility to protect Canadian jobs. By allowing a giant foreign wireless company to compete unfairly, they are driving jobs south of the border instead.
Wait, when did these people give a flying fuck about their workers? We know that Telus outsources their call centers to the Phillipines, and there is also the bitter strike that saw Telus violate Network Neutrality in the worst way possible, as well as Telus hiring surveillance and union busters. So, yeah, Telus at least, doesn’t give a shit about Canadian jobs.
Now, it seems that Rogers is getting off without me paying attention to them. This is definitely not the case. Here’s their third point, which hits the main Rogers weakness, Northern Communities:
Canadians enjoy some of the world’s best, most reliable wireless networks.
This is no accident. Our wireless carriers invested over $22 billion over the past decade on new network infrastructure. This commitment ensures that 99% of Canadians have access to 4G networks. And they are on pace to deliver best-in-class 4G LTE coverage to 75% of Canadians by the end of 2013.
By imposing only minimal coverage obligations on new entrants, the government’s wireless spectrum auction rules show little concern for rural and remote communities. This spells disaster for truly “national” coverage.
This is bullshit. Rogers didn’t care about providing rural communities with Internet when they killed the Portable Internet that was offered by Fido as part of their Inukshuk Wireless subsidiary. Nationwide Coverage is clearly the main weakness of Rogers, in fact getting a signal half the time is a major weakness of Rogers.
The fact is that this is all bullshit astroturf. Hearing the big three make arguments of privacy and labour groups for their own interests is pretty rich given how fast they piss these things away. I would have much prefered that the government break up Rogers, Telus and Bell, but this weird protectionism isn’t helping anyone, and Fair for Canada is just feeding everyone horseshit.